Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for July, 2008

Eat your cake and have it, too.

July 25, 2008 By: jessicazafra Category: Food 6 Comments →

Grand Cru Truffle Torte (Death and Resurrection and Death Again by Chocolate), originally uploaded by 160507.

Class is a loaded subject. The mere mention of it triggers all sorts of insecurity: Do I seem plebian? Are they mocking me? Have I not sufficiently concealed my lower middle-class background beneath a carapace of designer labels? In his 1983 book Class, Paul Fussell noted that the anxiety one feels when the subject of class is mentioned is a gauge of her social class. The upper-class enjoys it because it flatters them. The lower classes don’t care because they can’t change their class identity. It’s the middle class that gets all worked up, because they’d like to be upper class, but could still slip down to lower class.

It’s a touchy subject. So we won’t talk about class. Let’s talk about cake. In the Philippines, where the gap between rich and poor is so vast they seem to occupy different countries, you can tell a lot about someone by who bakes her cakes. The middle-income groups — the C and D demographics — buy cake from the big bakery chains. These chains have branches in all the shopping malls, and in countries which have large Filipino communities. The lower-income E and F demographics are too busy worrying about survival to think about cake. The elite A and B demographics may also patronize commercial bakeries, but on the occasions that call for displays of privilege, they refer to a private list.

This list contains the telephone numbers of upper and upper-middle class matrons in Manila who make cakes to order. Let’s call them bespoke bakers. Each one has her own speciality: Mrs Yulo has her strawberry shortcake, Mrs Cunanan her ensaymada, Mrs Vargas her butter cake, and so on. . .

Cake and Class in Emotional Weather Report, today in the Star. By the way, the title has the correct sequence of the frequently-misquoted expression, “You can’t eat your cake and have it too”. I learned this from the Unabomber, but not personally. William Safire in his NYT column on June 12, 1996:

“Correct usage of a much-abused proverb first recorded in the 16th century has become evidence. In paragraph 185 of his 35,000-word “manifesto,” published under duress by The Washington Post and The New York Times, the Unabomber wrote, “As for the negative consequences of eliminating industrial society — well, you can’t eat your cake and have it too — to gain one thing you have to sacrifice another.” In a letter discovered in Kaczynski’s mother’s home — a letter that inexplicably found its way into the media — the same proverb appears in the same words, with the same lack of a comma before the “too.”

“In both instances, the having and the eating were in correct order. Many people err in saying, “You can’t have your cake and eat it, too,” because you can — first you have it, and then you eat it. The impossible is the other way around; to “eat your cake and have it” is the absurdity that makes the point. Both the Unabomber’s creed and the Kaczynski letter had it right, which is more than can be said for half the quoters of the proverb.”


Immaterial boy

July 24, 2008 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Music 1 Comment →



The digested version of Christopher Ciccone’s Life With My Sister Madonna, from the Guardian:

“The deaths of Princess Diana and Gianni Versace bring us close together in 1997. When we hear the news, we both have the same two thoughts. How come these nobodies are getting all the attention and how come we’re not important enough to be assassinated? By now I have an international reputation as an interior designer – after Madonna asks me to buy a sofa from DFS for one of her 97 houses – and I count many celebrities as my close friends. “We adore you, Christopher,” say Sting, Trudie, Demi, Warren and Donatella. “We think you’re absolutely brilliant and we’d definitely be your best friends even if you weren’t Madonna’s brother.””

Racquet abuse

July 24, 2008 By: jessicazafra Category: Tennis 3 Comments →

Marat, originally uploaded by saffysafina.

If you’re a serious tennis player, as in you play at least twice a week in all kinds of weather (mostly you fry in the sun, so people on a skin-whitening regimen need not apply), and you’re looking for people to play with, we need you. Mike is organizing an amateur tennis group. Go to the Rizal Memorial tennis courts Saturdays and Sundays at 9am and look for Mike and JR, or post your name and number in comments (they won’t be made public) and Mike will contact you. If you look like Marat, Mario Ancic, or Feliciano Lopez, send a photo.

Cat kung fu

July 23, 2008 By: jessicazafra Category: Cats 2 Comments →

Bambini, originally uploaded by 160507.

My cats and I entertain ourselves by chasing each other around the house. When I’m It, they suddenly lie down on the floor like this, exposing their midsections. This does not strike me as a good position from which to launch an attack. Then I realized that these cats are even more clever than I thought. They know that their best defense is cuteness. Who needs claws when rolling around adorably will stop the pursuer in her tracks? Which does not stop them from sharpening their claws on the furniture.

The judges have spoken.

July 22, 2008 By: jessicazafra Category: Movies 4 Comments →

Ta-daaa! Deliberations for our Passengers’ Choice contest.

Judge Otsu: Have just realized that in the case of the Sulpicio ferry sinking, choice WAS possible–and crew members, according to some survivors, simply jumped off the ship. They made no efforts to save the people in their charge. In stressful situations, humans do not react uniformly. Some will be noble, some will fall apart, some will passively meet their fate, some will fight for survival unthinkingly.

All in all, a chaotic situation. Therefore, highly unlikely that a coherent voting process could take place. Most likely, many alpha types (pro- and anti-detonation, pro- and anti-jumping ship) will begin speaking at once and drown each other out. Then make a messy grab for the detonator.

Meanwhile, the Pinoys will have been the first to surreptitiously jump off the ferry, because we believe that even a powerful entity cannot possibly keep all of us “maliliit na tao” on his radar (Eye of Sauron), and “baka makalusot.” Plus the Virgin of Manaoag is watching over us, and will not let the evil Joker blow up either ferry anyway.

This being my view, my vote goes to #2 LittleMsSunshine, who admitted that a “bazillion” things would go through her mind, and shared her husband’s knee-jerk (therefore honest) reaction: blow up the other ferry. Special mention to #8 jayclopso3,
who also felt the scene called for more “chaos and paranoia”, and #11 jeg, who would “get the hell out of there.” The Pinoy hobbit survives and gets home in time for Letterman.

Note: Their realistic (or what I consider their realistic) takes on the ferry scenario come from asking themselves, “What would I do, in such a situation?” Kudos to Jara who notes unrealistic details, but who unfortunately does not profer a more realistic alternative, and instead takes refuge in abstraction.

Incidentally, it’s curious how many of the commentators accept the binary division of passengers into “civilians” and “non-criminals”, and assume a set pattern of behavior for either group. “Block voting.”

Judge Ernie: Most realistic outcome goes to abid. Love the equally realistic twist, which is consistent with Joker’s character, of the passengers blowing up their own boats instead. A special award to Cacs for the alternate ending depending on nationality breakdown – in spite of the racial inaccuracies you and Jara have earlier pointed out. In my case, I think ruth’s all-Filipino passenger scenario is far more accurate: the palakpakan system.

The Most Socially Relevant Ending goes to: Spooky. Jara’s thesis while well-appreciated is a political analysis of the ending. He/she never really offered any alternative ending.

So my Top 3 choices are abid, cacs, and spooky. In that order. Honourable mentions: ruth for Most Authentic Filipino ending. Blueboy for his accurate assessment of how human beings really behave given power.

Me: I took 21 pieces of paper of equal size, wrote the numbers 1 to 21, removed posts # 12 (mine), 13 and 19 (follow-ups to previous posts), folded the pieces into four, put them in an empty container of Chef Tony’s Popcorn (Parmesan – large), and picked a number. My winner is #10: ruth.

So LittleMissSunshine, abid, and ruth each get a Batman T-shirt. I hope medium works for you. Please post your mailing addresses (they won’t be made public). Your T-shirts should arrive in a few days. Thanks to everyone who participated in the contest.

Got the names and addresses of the winners. To ensure that the T-shirts arrive safely, could you give complete names and addresses (barangay, district, etc)?

Indie jones

July 21, 2008 By: jessicazafra Category: Current Events, Movies No Comments →

Jay, Francis X. Pasion’s witty and insightful first feature, won the Best Picture prize at this year’s Cinemalaya festival. Its star, Baron Geisler, was named Best Actor for his killer performance as a gay writer-producer who manufactures a “reality TV” show. Jay gets my personal Heisenberg Indeterminacy Award for illustrating how the behavior of particles is influenced by the presence of an observer, and the Best Use of An On-Camera Accident citation for the dead chick.

Best Director and Best Screenplay went to Chris Martinez for 100, which also won Best Actress for Mylene Dizon and Best Supporting Actress for Eugene Domingo. 100 also took home the Audience Award, probably because of all the entries, it best fits the old-time Pinoy idea of a good movie: it makes you laugh and cry, offers catharsis, and reminds you of your own life but not in an oppressive manner. I predict this movie makes it at the multiplex. I give it my personal Best Performance by a Cat trophy.

Tara Illenberger’s Brutus, the enlightening story of two Mangyan children trying to smuggle wooden boards for illegal loggers, got the Special Jury Prize, Best Supporting Actor for Yul Servo, and most unsurprisingly, Best Cinematography for Jay Abello, who also directed Namets. You try shooting a movie in mountains, forests and rivers, see how it looks. I’ve been told that an NGO filed a restraining order on the movie, saying it put the Mangyans in danger from illegal loggers. I hope the flap gets media time for Brutus because it deserves to be watched. I predict that foreign festival programmers will be very interested in this one. It gets my Holy crap, a movie in which the military and the rebels are both viewed in a sympathetic light! prize.

I saw six of the ten movies in competition, and none of them was godawful! Wait, must write my column.